There comes a time when you or a loved one may not be able to make decisions on your own. Whether you are losing the capacity to make decisions with a sound mind or not physically present to act, you may need someone who can stand in your stead. In these cases, you could draft and execute a power of attorney, which makes someone else your agent for the purposes specified in the document.
Powers of attorney are not something you should take lightly, nor should you try to use a standard template form. You need to use forethought and precision in drafting the document.
Our Hendersonville estate planning attorney at Davis Curry Law can review your circumstances and advise you on what powers of attorney may be necessary. We can also draft the documents for your signature. We understand that a power of attorney is a difficult topic, and we handle your legal matter with sensitivity. Contact us to begin.
FAQs About Power of Attorney Services
Why do I need a lawyer for a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a binding contract, and courts will strictly construe everything in the document. Words and commas count, and a mistake can cause your family difficulty in an already tough time.
Who should I choose to have power of attorney?
Selecting someone to have power of attorney is a momentous choice because that person will have a significant amount of authority. You want to make sure that you trust the person and that they have the ability to competently do what is being asked of them.
How North Carolina Law Addresses Powers of Attorney
North Carolina law states that a power of attorney is a “writing or other record that grants authority to an agent to act in the place of the principal, whether or not the term power of attorney is used.”
The person granting the power of attorney is the principal, while the person receiving it is their agent, or attorney-in-fact. One does not need to be an actual attorney to be an attorney-in-fact.
North Carolina changed its laws in 2018 to adopt the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. This law attempts to strike a balance between allowing the agent broad power to act and protecting the interests of the principal.
Under the new law, there are certain things that a principal cannot do unless they are given an express grant of authority in the power of attorney. At the same time, if something is not expressly forbidden by law without express permission, the agent will get the benefit of the doubt about whether they have the authority to act.
The Different Kinds of Power of Attorney Under North Carolina Law
There are several types of powers of attorney with which you need to be familiar. They are:
- A general power of attorney allows the agent to make all decisions on behalf of the principal. The agent can do on behalf of the principal anything that the principal could do for themselves.
- A temporary power of attorney is for a specific time period. One example of a temporary power of attorney is when a service member is deployed overseas and may not be able to handle their own affairs from afar.
- A limited power of attorney is when the principal only grants authority to handle certain types of decisions. For example, the agent could be authorized to make healthcare or financial decisions.
Limitations on the Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is not an unlimited grant of authority. Here are some limitations on the power of attorney:
- The agent must act within the powers granted to them in the document itself.
- Since the power of attorney is a contract, it must be followed at all times. If the document lays out any limitations, the agent must follow them. An agent cannot handle financial matters if the power of attorney is limited to healthcare decisions.
- Further, one who obtains a power of attorney must handle the matters themselves. They cannot delegate their authority, nor may they transfer the power to anyone else.
- When one acts as an agent, they must follow the principles of agency law. The main principle is that the agent owes a fiduciary duty to a principal. The agent must act in the interests of the principal, as opposed to their own. They must also use reasonable care to make decisions.
Powers of Attorney for Military Service Members
Service members do not always have full access to communication and technology when they are deployed. They are not present, and they may not be able to gather all the information that they need to know. Thus, they may not be able to make decisions for themselves. They may be better served when they authorize a trusted friend or family member to act in their stead until they return.
If you opt for a power of attorney, you should choose the one that is appropriate for your situation. There is no one correct answer as to which type you should consider. Before you execute a power of attorney, you should consult with an experienced attorney.
Since the power of attorney is binding, you want to be completely comfortable with what is in the document. In addition, you want to make sure that the power of attorney is correct. The last thing that you want to worry about is legal matters when you or a loved one is deployed.
Contact a Power of Attorney Lawyer in Hendersonville, NC
When you need an approachable lawyer who takes the time to provide you with personalized legal services, consider the professionals at Davis Curry Law. We are a veteran-owned law firm working with North Carolina residents and military service members to give you legal solutions to the issues facing you. We understand that giving someone power of attorney can be a difficult choice, and we will handle your case with sensitivity to your situation.